It’s well known that strong social networks can lead people to engage in cooperative behavior. But what are the underlying forces that help build and sustain such networks?

Delia Baldassarri, a professor of sociology at New York University, posits four mechanisms that may drive people to work together in a collective endeavor. Two of them, general altruism and group solidarity, are motives that stem from a concern for others’ welfare. And two of them, Baldassarri explains, involve...

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